I begin this post by highlighting that I was one of the few, very fortunate people to have been given a strong transplant, which I hope lasts me years to come.
However, not everyone has that opportunity, and I live with a tiny touch of uncertainty as to how long my own new one will last me. So...I'm dedicating this post to BBC Lifeline Appeal, having chosen Kidney Research UK as their July charity. They will be focusing on a new, revolutionary technique for kidney transplant treatment and will be airing at the end of July.
Transplants can mean the world of difference to a patient's life (I include myself in that), so please take a moment to read this post, or listen to the vlog attached.
Remember, if it wasn't for Kidney Research UK putting in time and effort to raise money and fund research, kidney treatment wouldn't be where it is today. And I'm very aware that I was...am...one of the lucky few who benefited from that research...
A bit of background from Kidney Research UK
'Broadcaster Lauren Laverne features in the appeal as kidney disease & kidney research are subjects she cares about deeply, after her father suffered kidney failure last year.
The film features 10-year-old Matthew, who has had both his kidneys removed. His life depends completely on a daily routine of dialysis. He’s been on the transplant list for 7 years and is desperate for a donor kidney to become available. Matthew’s mum set up a Facebook page with the aim of raising awareness of kidney disease and the organ donor register to try and find a donor for her son:
The appeal also features Deborah Bakewell...featured in some of [Kidney Research UK] campaigns previously. Deborah went into kidney failure in her 50s. After years on a punishing dialysis routine, her wishes appeared to come true when a donor kidney came up for transplant.
However disappointment followed when the kidney appeared to be damaged.
Fortunately, her surgeon, Professor Mike Nicholson, was leading a ground-breaking research team funded by Kidney Research UK. He wanted to see if the one in five donated kidneys that are currently thought to be unsuitable due to damage, could be successfully transplanted. He has pioneered a technique called normothermic perfusion, which allowed medics to revive a donor kidney in the lab and test whether it works or not.
Deborah decided to become a medical guinea pig, and to take Professor Nicholson’s offer. After he transplanted the kidney her recovery was immediate and dramatic, and she says she owes her life to Professor Nicholson’s research. We are now funding a trial to test the technique on many more transplant patients.
The appeal is broadcast on:
Sunday 26th July – BBC One – 17.00
Wednesday 29th July – BBC Two – 12.00
Help the charity by getting the word out using social media!
Kidney Research UK wants as many people as possible talking about this on social media and would love it if you could help us out with that. Use your channels, use your blogs, use your videos...anything...
The hashtags to use are #BBCLifeline #EveryKidneyCounts
Money raised will go towards the Making Every Kidney Count Appeal.
(a copy of the PDF is available here)
However...sometimes kidney transplants don't last forever...but now there's a chance...
Thanks to money raised by the charity, £55,000 has now been put towards a 3 year study to combat transplant rejection:
“One of the ways the body rejects the kidney is to produce antibodies, proteins that stick to the transplant and flag it up to immune cells as something that needs to be attacked.
“Currently we use lots of strong medications to dampen down the immune system and prevent this attack; however these medications have side effects, including increasing the risk of infection and cancer.
“I’d like to find out what is different between a patient whose immune system starts to attack the transplant, and one whose immune system is controlled by the medication. So my research aims take a few steps back from the point where antibodies are produced to try to pinpoint an earlier part of the process where a change begins.
“I will be looking at the way patients’ white blood cells (or immune cells) interact with each other, particularly those that are important for producing antibodies. By looking at these cells in more detail, I hope we can discover new ways of preventing this interaction and find new ways of predicting, in advance, who is at risk of attack.”